Today the ‘Jewel of India’ may rightly be retitled as the ‘land of bandhs & blockades’. In a year, nearly 5/6 months are under the spell of either bandh or blockade. In the name of highlighting grievances, pursuing demands and settling scores with the enemy or authorities any organisation ( any body) can launch either a bandh or a blockade or both. Some Doctors think bandhs/blockades cause hardships to the commoners; they may be right in a limited sense. But in an unlimited sense there are numerous benefits of bandhs and blockades.
Actually, a large number of people are benefited in different ways. They do really enjoy bandhs/ blockades. One would be surprised to know that they really welcome bandhs and blockades; particularly the black-marketers, smugglers, bootleggers, hoarders, usurers, some office-goers, participants and some scholars eagerly wait for such opportunities. Even the uniformed service providers (black, khaki and white) have a gala time during such seasons for the simple reason that they have to deal with a number of rackets, ruckus and casualties; more cases mean more business.
Some exotic experts feel that the daily wage earners, labours, hawkers and veg-vendors are deprived of their business and they are dying from hunger. Did anybody die of hunger during bandhs and blockades? None! Even the chronic hunger strikers don’t die. Frankly speaking many daily- livelihood- earners become participants of bandhs /blockades and they get convinced by the cause and survived by the spirit of the cause. I am not talking about petty or insignificant bandhs/ blockades. The actual bandhs and blockades are those which are well organised and propagated by powerful ideas.
The high and mighty enjoy bandhs/blockades more than anyone else. Because they are not disturbed during such period. Sometimes they come out from their palatial buildings or designated houses to see the scenario. They are quite used to such a situation and rather at ease; they get all essential items, drinkables and eatables just at a call. And quite often they drive out with family and friends (of course with security) to see the empty markets, burning roads, unattended offices, institutions etc. We don’t know why ?
We don’t need to comprehend the logic and legitimacy of bandhs, blockades, counter -blockades etc. What we need to understand is the unique dynamics of such measures. In a democracy, we must appreciate all forms of criticism and protests including bandhs and blockades (though illegal). But such activities ought to serve some fundamental purpose of the demos. And mostly they do. Many believe that bandhs and blockades are also niceties of democracy.
We also have a brisk bandh/blockade economy? The hoarders, smugglers, usurers and black-marketers are minting money during such time. Particularly the petrol-walas, gas-walas, bottle-walas, aloo-walas (vegetable-walas), pan-walas, dal-wals are having a lucrative time. Within days they become lakh-patis if not millionaires if they have enormous stocks (hiding).
Another undercurrent of a prolonged blockade/bandh is the highly profitable business of usury economy.
Normally all Manipuris irrespective of ethnic affiliation live in style and fashion; we regularly drive our cars buying petrol at 200 rupees a litre; we eat chicken even at 300 rupees per kg; we even buy LPG cooking gas at 3000 rupees per cylinder and local brew at 400 rupees a bottle. The usurers are supplying money to all and sundry because banks do not lend money on day- to- day basis for buying extremely essential like like ‘zarda-kwa’, ‘Yu’, ‘kheini’, ‘talab’, ‘bidi’ etc.
It is an undeniable fact that almost all the family members take rest during blockades/bandhs. They relax at home and spend time together. They do a lot of sun-bathing and enjoy a lot of vitamin D. Consequently, a kind of cohesiveness develops among the family members. Thus, family bond is strengthened immensely. At the same time, enough scope has been provided for relaxation which is indispensable for good health.
In order to augment happiness and enjoyment of the people, incumbent government may kindly dole out bandh/blockade-allowance every six months like DA. At the same time, the concerned authorities may seriously think of legalizing certain illegal activities like lagao, gambling, drinking, open selling of essential commodities at exorbitant prices etc. during bandhs and blockades? By doing so, many people will get legitimate employment and they will also get an opportunity to serve their own people legally during such exciting times.
Competent authorities may kindly organise some skill-development-programs simultaneously with the bandhs and blockades (skill development like packaging & marketing of our marvellous local brew at international standards, despite prohibition). People can learn such skills during such leisure time for future pursuits and businesses . This will be a virtual blessing for our people. Otherwise innocent people will be left out in the interdependent culture of bandhs & blockades. Symbiotic political profit of the present blockade will be huge. See the bonanza on March 11.
Source: The Sangai Express